Saturday, September 28, 2002

Pool Night

Last night was indeed pool night.

Forgot to bring a camera, which is bad because there were lots of great photo opportunities. Mostly of Ben dancing like an idiot whenever he sank a ball. Or whenever the dj played something that he actually knew. They had this horrid dj that was playing stuff which had munchkin sounding vocals over thumpy thumpy non-musical tracks. I was bored by it. I don't like dance music all that much, but a good dj can make magic... this guy "made me a headache" as Geoff would say.

Brian didn't make it--and that's too bad because we actually had such a blast. Derek Vodkaman, who works at the college too, came up with the guys and was in rare high-entertainment form. We laughed an awful lot at and towards him.

Dan was also there, claiming to be ready for the baby to come, except they still have some finishing touches to do on the baby's room. Doug laughed "He has NO idea what he's in for. heh heh heh."

Yeah. True.

Ben has a new girlfriend and brought her along. She works at the college too, and I don't know her very well, but last night she was my girl and we had a great time. She told me she was a little worried about going out with us all because she thought it was a "guy" thing, and was glad that I was there. I told her it's usually my idea and for some strange reason they agree to drive all the way up to Haverhill to meet for pool when there are a million places closer to their house. Says a lot about the nature of our friendship I think.

It was fun to watch Ben and his new girlfriend last night. I am always fascinated by people in new relationships.

The way they touch each other, the small glances across the group of friends complete with eye rolling and blushes. They were awash in small simple hand dances with one another. The way he put his hand on the small of her back and pushed her gently away from or towards his body. The way she stands on her toes to look in his eyes with her fingertips slipping gently into his belt loops. His hand reaching over and grabbing the hem of her shirt and twisting it through around his fingers into a little ball, and her not caring he's stretching the fabric out.

I've seen him with a few different girlfriends, and I'm always impressed at how sweet he is to his girlfriends, and to his friends. His mom died three years ago, and I think that she would be proud of the person he has turned out to be, really. I've told him that and he thinks that's the biggest compliment I could ever pay her. I wish I could have told her to her face but I never had the chance to meet her.

Two years ago I remember him telling me how incredibly in love he was with this new girlfriend, he met her at a buddy's wedding. She was the one he was going to love forever. We were at the same pool hall on another really fun night, the last night we all got to go out with Clayton.

Now he's with someone else, and I have no idea what happened or why. And I'm not going to ask him. I never ask details -- he offers if he wants to share. I think if his new girlfriend wasn't there he may have been forthcoming, but they were doing their new relationship connection thing and that of course meant he wasn't free to sit on the couch with me and talk and talk.

He's like a little brother to me sometimes and I get kind of... concerned and protective. We have a great, casual relationship, but I feel a great bond with him, and with Dan really. Not so much with Brian most of the time... that bond is different. It isn't as affectionate as I feel with both Dan and Ben. Brian is sort of inaccessible that way. Instead of "I love you guys!" it's "Of course I love you, don't be an idiot and ask me again."

When we are together we have a blast and it always ends with "I love you guys!" and "we need to do this more!" but we do it so sparingly. I asked Ben last night if we would have been friends had we met not at work but say at school as students and he was so enthusiastically convinced we would have been friends even if we met on line at a deli. Sometimes I wonder. I'm completely amazed at the nature of some of the friendships I have, where I meet people, how I get to know them... and of all my friendships I'm glad that Ben and I continue to be friends, that my leaving hasn't resulted in a total disintegration of relationship. I'm glad to get email from him telling me I'm a loser because my fantasy football team kicker is out for the season injured and I haven't replaced him. I'm glad to get picked on by him and I'm happy I make him laugh. He is the one person I think I miss the most from being at the college.

Next Saturday is Vodkaman's birthday and they are all going out on a gambling cruise out of Lynn, MA. He does their advertising and print collateral, so he's got 8 passes. Doug and I were invited, but we aren't going to be able to go because Doug's going to Chicago for a wedding. And I would be getting back to port at 2am, which isn't fair to any baby sitter anytime. Unless it was my mom or something and she was sleeping her.

So another pool night will have to be scheduled for later. I'd like to do one before the end of the year.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Cats and Dogs

When Doug and I were first married, we had a cat. I begged Doug for a cat. I was very very lonely in Atlanta, he was in Graduate School, I was depressed... we got a cat. His name was Linus, named for the first Pope (we're not Catholic but Doug knows a lot of church history so he thought that'd be a great cat name). Linus was a southern rebel, to the core. He was pissed to hell when we moved north, and he hated Doug. I think he blamed Doug for everything. Stupid Cobb County Animal Shelter attitude filled southern cat.

So when he'd get mad at either of us, he'd go into the bedroom closet and poop all over anything that was on the floor. I'd usually discover it a few days later.

He also would attack Doug without provocation. Doug hated that cat.

We traded the cat for a Rottweiler (My Missy). I loved Linus. He was such a good cat to me, but he and Doug definitely didn't ever bond. To this day -- Doug HATES CATS. My kids want one in the worst way. Doug's all about the big NO.

I miss Linus sometimes. He was a super cat (to me). He would curl up beside me and do this kitty kneeding thing into my inner arm and put his kitty lips up against my skin, and in a half asleep way, purring his head off, would be transported back to life in the barn in some backwoods Cobb County town with his Mamma kitty and all his brothers and sisters, before they boxed him up and gave him to us.

I loved when he'd go wild and run all over the house like a complete mental patient. We had no furniture, so he'd crash into walls, skidding all over the place. It was a riot.

Kinger ate a duck once. Not a live one, but a partially consumed roasted Thai duck that was left unattended. It was on the counter at Dan and Honey's house. Honey left it there, not thinking that Kinger, with the mindset of a stray, would eat the whole thing once she left the house to run to the market. Her dogs don't ever eat off the counter.

Dan warned us that it happened when we picked him up that night. He predicted the worst.

And the worst did happen.

Doug and I were asleep, and suddenly Doug woke up thinking, "What is that smell???" He got out of bed and walked into the kitchen. Kinger was cowering in the corner, the entire room was covered with both vomit and shit. Kinger was terrified. So was Doug.

To this day I'm so proud of what he did next. He didn't wake me up saying "Honey? There's some puke in the kitchen, and some shit. Can you go clean it up?"

He was wide awake -- his body shocked into response and literally unable to just walk away from it and ignore it. He took the dog outside, cleaned the house, cleaned the dog, cleaned himself, prayed it wouldn't happen again that night (after all that effort)...

When I got up in the morning there wasn't a trace of stink. He did an amazing job. A round of applause for the responsible dog owner.

We don't leave food unattended, not even a loaf of bread. All our pets for some reason have had this "thing" for bread loaves. Linus used to pull them off the counter and wrestle with them, fighting them until they were naught but crumbs and plastic shredded remains. Missy and Kinger both would take entire loaves and eat them. On our bed.

Not good.

Jack is proving himself to be kind of a food thief. I'm hoping he learns a lesson some way before we have a Thai roast duck incident.

Alright -- I'm off to shower. More tomorrow.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

field trip photos, gardening

Last night I wanted to take the kids to see Jonah, the Veggie Tales movie but a quick look through the movie listings didn't have a mention of its existence. No review, no showtimes anywhere in the state. So we went to see Spy Kids 2, which wasn't as good as Spy Kids 1 in my mind. It had its moments, and Antonio Banderas ... has gorgeous eyes and the greatest nose in movies today (yes, greater than my adoration for Owen Wilson's nose. Banderas' nose is small, perfect, perky. Beautiful.).

But I digress. I could have sworn that the TV commercials I've seen have the movie out on October 4. Even the trailer in the Spy Kids 2 previews have it released on October 4.

I just went to the Jonah webpage and there is a link to Fandango, the movie ticket purchase site. According to them, the movie isn't showing within 40 miles of a search radius of my house. Which I find hard to believe. The Fandango site says it is "Playing Everywhere!"

Uh, no. Liar pants.

So I went to the official "Big Idea" Website, and they have a full listing with phone numbers of ALL the theatres showing the movie, and a note saying Fandango only shows movie listings for that particular weeks worth of showings.

The list cracked me up -- It is showing all over the Bible Belt, the southwest and California, but not here in the nearly Godless Commonwealth, or anything North of Virginia or East of Ohio!

But the site says that October 18th is the second roll out of the film, so hopefully that'll be in our neighborhood, three theatres near us are marked with the October 18th asterisks.

Today I slept in late. Geoff played in the livingroom with his LeapPad reading system. For hours. Last week I'd bought him a new Superman reading book for the LeapPad and he's played with it constantly since.

The batteries finally died on the thing, and he came in and woke me up to change them.

Then Jessica got up and they started to fight. Sleeping time was over.

We went and picked up medicine at the vet for Kinger, as we were out totally. We went and bought some mums, planted them. They are huge. I had two that I have no idea what to do with, so I put them in pots on the porch. I am not a big fan of mums, but they are hearty and they come back every year. I am a lazy gardener I guess. So these ones are big and perky, purple and white. It feels like fall at my house, and I'll be sad when the tomatoes, petunias, morning glories and snapdragons are fully dead. Sigh.

Our floral efforts this year were pretty lame. The vegetables paid off big time. But for some reason none of our flowers did well, except the six huge sunflowers I planted behind the house in the full heavy sun. They were extraordinary. I wanted to take a picture of them, but we ended up losing them in a wind storm. I didn't tie them up against the fence.

But they were there and glorious, for a while.

Here are some of the pictures from the field trip and the past couple days of our existence, including a quick geocache that we went on when Doug got out of work on Tuesday... I don't have much to write about today. I want to go sit out on the deck and soak up the remaining rays of gorgeous fall sunlight.

Here's Jack fresh from his morning swim today. He is constantly wet. The stupid thing refuses to stay out of the water... he's in for a rude surprise when it freezes!
Doug and Jessie finding the Geocache in Atkinson, NH. It was a quick and easy one, right after Doug got out of work. We headed over there. What a nice treat...
The girls with a woman pretending to sit outside a 1942 WW2 era shoppe. From Left to right, K, the lady, A, Jessica, and sitting is C. This was the only picture I took that K smiled in.
K on C's lap, A on Jessica's. Inside the swing under the zinfandel grape arbor at the Welsh house at Strawberry Banke. "Mrs. Welsh," a woman in costume, gave them her permission to sit.
I forget which house this is, but it used to be the Governor's Mansion. The gardens at this house are spectacular. Best porch swing ever. K is kind of smiling.
In the Sukkot at the Shapiro home. The Shapiro home was my favorite -- because they had tons and tons of photographs of the family. Got a real feel for who lived there.

And here the girls decided to ham it up on a cruddy old tree stump. I love how A has her hand on Jessica's head. Jessica's trying not to pee herself laughing. K is there in front. She refused to climb on the tree stump. It was too disgusting. She looks ... Very Serious.

As I said before... she was an interesting child to have around for the day. I didn't dislike her. She has a quiet intensity that most fifth graders (especially these other three clowns in the picture) lack.

I took this picture for the Mirror Project but won't send it in without permission from the parents. I showed Jessica's teacher these pictures on the LCD of my camera, and explained why I took the mirror project picture. She cringed and shook her head "Oh, I wouldn't send something like that out to the internet." She didn't even say "be sure to ask the parents if they have a problem with it before you send it in... which is what I planned to do.

So she'd probably freak if she saw this. But I sincerely doubt she knows about this journal at all. And, it's a darn funny picture. K is there, third from the left, and she got into it. You can barely see C back there behind Jessie. I should have arranged them better. I had a great time with these girls. I'd chaperone again.

Alright. Enough. It's a beautiful day. I can't let it get away.

Monday, September 23, 2002

geocaching, job interview, marrying outside the faith

I just got off the phone with the woman I want as my next boss. Carrie -- you can stop worrying about when they are going to call me (grin!) She emailed me over the weekend -- asked when would be good to talk about the position she is hiring for. I emailed her back saying today would be the best day... between 10 and noon. At 10:04 the phone rings.

We just talked for 50 minutes... and I think I made a great impression on HER... she loved my resume, loved the fact I have experience with faculty, thinks that faculty don't listen well (cough, prof MF? hello?) and thinks that I'd be the perfect match because of experience and understanding of them on the whole.

She even remembers my husband from when he worked there, thinks he's a great guy.

The rest of the committee are faculty members with Ph.D.s and THEY are looking for... a Ph.D. to fill the position. She is trying to convince them otherwise. We talked quite extensively about how well I will do the job. The task now is to convince the CIO, the Provost, a Wellness (cough, gym!) teacher, a Biology Prof and an English Prof, all male, that I'll be able to do the job. They want a "peer" who has years of classroom teaching experience and has made the switch to using technology in the classroom. The kind of experience someone like Prof CM has. He is PERFECT for the job, but heck -- he's got tenure, he isn't leaving where he is!

Cross your fingers and let's hope she can tell them that their search for a Ph.D. who wants to leave teaching and teach other teachers to build websites and run blackboard classes is futile -- that I am the best candidate.

She wants screenshots of the stuff I've done, so I'm going to print out online right now an extensive history of MF's class, and the stuff I'm doing for CM, and my portfolio as a designer. I have all kinds of great screenshots from the old college, and I think I can convince them that from a pedogogical perspective I am perfect for the job, without the Ph.D.

This could SO be the job for me.

Another great thing she told me is that in January they are pulling their website 100% BACK in house. They hired a design firm to build, host and maintain the site, and there has been a huge problem with updates and making changes. No one there at the design firm knows the source of update requests -- is this an urgent request, is this a student pulling a prank... so they want it all pulled in house and want to hire someone to be "master of the domain" as it were.

That would also be me.

So we talked about that position -- she thinks I'd be perfect for it if the faculty I interview with cannot get past the non-degree status I currently hold. And there's a good chance I'd rather do that anyhow! So there! Hire me.

What a morning.

I totally forgot that today I was going to go to Salem to have lunch with my friend Rupa -- I'm picking up Geoff early today and have to run to do some errands. I know better than to schedule meetings/lunches on Mondays. I always screw things up and forget.

It isn't like the weekend was full of frivolity or drunkenness. It was incredibly mellow and fun. But it's just me and Mondays. We don't click well together. Not to make light of it, but I think I have Alzheimer every Monday -- I forget everything I'm supposed to do that day or the week upcoming and I need the time Monday to regroup, remember... and get back on track.

We went to Gloucester on Saturday and met up with our friends there, Gregg and Karry and their kids, and Gregg's sister and brother in law. We went to the Gloucester Seafood Festival, it was a hot and beautiful day. Jessica and Ian always hit it off like a house on fire, so I spent a lot of time with the two of them and Doug took Geoff off another direction. Gregg and the rest of the contingent all split up too and we all met back up a while later.

Here's Abby with the biggest balloon hat in history, by the way. She's a hot ticket, that one... We then took Ian geocaching with us! He has been wanting to do this since we saw them in July, so we made a point to offer. At first Gregg wanted to have him "visit with his Aunt, Uncle and Cousin," but after a while he figured it'd be good to have some Ian-free time. Ian has ADD, and is very very VERY excited. At one point in the car he gleefully informed me he was off his meds, as he is every Saturday and Sunday. They give him a break from them and by Saturday afternoon you can tell the difference. I could see it was wearing on Gregg. He's kind of like Squidward to Ian's Spongebob... if you know the show you get the reference.

Thing is with Ian, and with Geoffrey too, -- if you are doing something HE wants to do, attention is not an issue. There is no deficit. He was a pro geocacher. Doug was thrilled to take him. He wanted Jessica to have this kind of response to caching when we started, but she complains about the hiking part, and hates when there is crappy swag in the box. So he gets irritated with her and doesn't like to bother with her on a hike.

Ian on the other hand was so into the GPS, the hikes, the finding. He found both of them (although I knew exactly where the 2nd was and was on my way towards it when he yelled from behind me that he saw it... so he took all the credit. Jerk. Stealin' my glory and all that... pfth). So Doug gave him his nickname.. Eagle Eye.

Here he is posing with his very first cache ever. This one is at Stage Fort Park, right on the ocean. There are huge rocks to climb all over, beautiful views of Gloucester harbor and Magnolia. We spent a good deal of time just climbing around on the rocks and having billy goat style fun.

The second cache was at Goose Cove, and if you are at all familiar with the drive up to Rockport, MA, it is on your right as you are going up the west side of Gloucester towards Annisquam and Lanesville. There is a little causway before Annisquam (I think it's before...) and the Essex County Greenbelt owns some 26 acres of the land which juts out into the cove, thus creating it.

Here are links to the two we did. Goose Cove and Ryan's Geocache. We were going to do a third but figured that it would be dark by the time we got through finding the cache and we still would have to get back to the car. Ian was crestfallen. But I'm sure we'll get up to do the other two caches on Cape Ann before it gets too cold to be out there on the ocean scouring rocks at Halibut Point or Dogtown... (by the way, this link is to a Harry Chapin song of the same name, one I've never ever even heard).

Dogtown (a more historical link, with a picture of where the cache is near) is one of the first areas of Gloucester that was settled, and later abandoned. It's an area we've never gone to even though we've lived here for a million years and everyone we know hikes there and knows the place like the back of their hand. I am looking forward to doing that cache -- it looks like it would be either as hard as you wanted to make it or as easy, depending on where you park.

Here are some more pictures from our visit to Gloucester and our Eagle Eye Ian Geocache Adventure:

My kids couldn't be cuter here... for a change. They aren't fighting, scratching, screaming or biting. What a beautiful picture. Sigh.

Jessie scaling the rocks at Stage Fort Park.
Jessie making a "Sailor's Valentine" at the Seafood Festival
Ian returns the cache to it's location
Ian and Geoff tear into Goose Cove Cache.

Sunset from Goose Cove -- being on the point and looking west was nice.


Jessie took this of me, it's a nice picture except for the fact I'm fat and wearing a spongebob squarepants Tshirt.

Sunday we went to Brian's for a BBQ and football game viewing. It was fun to hang with everyone. Even Honey came, and usually she doesn't. She's so pregnant and cute. Geoff got married again, to Brian's daughter Alyssa. A neighbor girl performed the ceremony in the playhouse part of the swingset. We watched from the windows and laughed at them -- they stood across from each other holding hands and gazing lovingly at each other while the other little girl pronounced them man and wife. I didn't see any kissing. Later, Alyssa told me they were playing Sleeping Beauty and Geoff was the prince who woke her from her death-sleep, so they had to get married.

Brian quipped to me that there was no dowry whatsoever. We noted that covering on the playhouse made a nice chuppa, or they could move over into the Sukkot sukkah, which was at the top of the driveway. We were going to run out there with a glass for them to stomp on but were too lazy.

Brian and his family are very seriously Jewish... (no kidding, right? I mean, how many people do you know who call themselves Jews who actually build a sukkah? Seriously. None. You don't. You are Jewish and you don't. I know. Really).

I doubt that they'd ever allow Alyssa to marry an evangelical goy like my son. But we had a good laugh at them, and they make a cute couple. Alyssa is small and slight with gorgeous huge black-brown eyes and curly brown hair, and she looks up at you through her eyebrows and has the sweetest little pout. Geoff is so Aryan, blonde, tall, strapping, strong, not an ounce of fat on him... They looked hysterical getting hitched in the yard. What a funny thing if something like that ever happened.

I bet Brian would let Geoff take her to a school dance or something. But he'd be up pacing the floor all night. As for Geoff already being married -- I anulled that one. When Victoria moved out of the house nextdoor, Victoria left Geoffrey. I'm the judge on the case, and I signed the paperwork.

Victoria thinks they're still married. Geoff has moved on. And I'm glad that he has found new love with a family I adore.

I just called Brian to tell him about my phone interview because he is the top of my reference list, and I asked him outright about Alyssa marrying a goy. He told me absolutely not. He and his wife haven't had this conversation, after all, the girl is 4 so it hasn't been a thought or concern, but he knows that her bashert would not be Geoff or any other non-Jewish kid. He also said he's going to give her a ration of Jewish Guilt in regards to marrying, dating or even fantasizing outside the faith. He's right as a man of his faith. And I have no problem with that. But I did joke that he needs to be cautious about his brainwashing against goy boys, that he could cause Alyssa to go all Hebrew Taliban on the world.

We're so open with our relationship as super jew and super (sorta) christian that I love these kinds of discussions with him. Wouldn't trade this friendship for anything.

Alright. I've been at this for an hour. With many interruptions. I've got to go to the market now, buy our supplies for the week, clean Geoff's room, pick him up, go to the bank, get his glasses... yadda yadda. I feel like I need a break already!

Sunday, September 22, 2002

I am a Gen X'er

The past few days have been a flurry of work, work, housework, running kids around, and more work. I've been at cateringman's for three straight days. I'm off the hook today and tomorrow, today being Thursday and I must work with prof MF on her class so that means I can't possibly dedicate myself to working for him (he understands, his wife is a colleague of prof MF so he knows how much work I'm doing over there). Tomorrow I'm chaperoning a field trip for my daughter's class.

Hurricane Isidore should hit right as we are getting on the busses. We're heading to Portsmouth NH, and it's a mostly outdoor trip, so I'm wondering if they will postpone it.

If they don't, I'll need a good rain hat.

Anyway -- back to my life. Which is what this is all about, right?

I finished reading Microserfs, which I started this summer while in Chicago. It was on Scott and Sarita's bookshelf, so during the three days we spent there I read about three quarters of it. On Monday I took Geoff to get a new pair of glasses because his current pair was just constantly popping out the left lens. They actually gave that pair back, which they usually don't do, but the manager of this particular lenscrafters has been really good to us, and he's cool... so he handed them to me and told me that I should keep them as a back up just in case of emergency.

We went to the bookstore while waiting, and I grabbed three Douglas Coupland books. Microserfs, Generation X and Miss Wyoming. I wanted Girlfriend in a Coma but they didn't have it.

So in finishing Microserfs, I'm noticing that I think it will be a perfect novel to incorporate into the class I'm co teaching with professor CM this spring on Technology and Society.

I just started reading Generation X... and Amy, if you are reading this -- I think Coupland agrees with you twenty fold on your passionate life stance. You should check it out. I'm about 70 pages into it, but I think that what you and I both feel about a passionate life is a by-product of being born after 1960 and before 1970. It's not just your opinion -- I think the majority of people who at the time that particular book was written were were called "Twenty Somethings" feel.

Dave, the guy I knew from Oregon who went kinda crazy, carried "Generation X" around like a Bible. He quoted from it and Nietzsche all the time. I was reluctant to ever read the book, simply because I thought it would be a whole lot of crazy bullshit (just because Dave was crazy). But I finally broke down and am reading it... and enjoying it. But it does make me feel sad and empty.

And I know I'm never ever taking another McJob again as long as I live anyway. My resume has grown up enough to mean I won't have to. I've got that requisite 5-10 years experience at something. I guess that's because I had kids early and got forced into a settled mode, as opposed to so many people I know who work jobs to save money and then travel all over the place. They are perpetually poor, but they've seen the entire world. My friend Sara has been to India twice, is currently studying advanced yoga education with some swami yoga dude in like Nepal or some crap... but she works on an apple harvest farm every fall and doesn't own a car. She house sits for people, and teaches yoga, and makes more money than I do.

I don't know if she pays taxes.

It's funny because we're well into our thirties now. When does this lifestyle stop?

Well. I don't have enough time to continue pondering the status of an aging Generation X... I'm off to do the professor MF thing. Perhaps a little more later. There is other stuff on my mind, but I just don't have enough time in the day to really slam it in here.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Halfway through the day today at Cateringman's (trumpet flourish, hands on hips, looking to the horizon with assured satisfaction that the day is saved) they realized they didn't need me to go be on the job tonight after all. They had plenty of waitstaff and three people in the kitchen.

Color me pissed.

I could be in the car on the way to New York right this second. Catering man asked me if I'd come back later this afternoon to the shop to work with him on prep for the two big jobs for tomorrow. Seeing as I could use the money, Planned on being Cateringgirl anyway... I told him to call me on his way back from the delivery of the big big function stuff and let me know what time to come in. Probably at 5:30pm.

So mom and Linda -- sorry. I could be hanging with your face, but it looks like Thanksgiving at the earliest.

Cateringman was short of fuse today. I got lectured for mistakes other people made, just because I was standing in the vicinity. One guy, who is a total misogynist, told me a prep job was done so I crossed it off the list. Cateringman lectured me for 10 minutes on not crossing off jobs until they are 100% done, and not crossing off OTHER people's jobs (I crossed it off because the He Man Woman Hater was grilling and his hands were occupied -- I thought I was doing him a favor).

And the entire time I was having my corn chute raked, Mr. Jerkbag didn't step to my defense at all saying "Well, I told her to circle it... so it's my bad." He walked around continuing to do his job, without saying a word.


He also does things that baffle me -- he's divorced, and hates his ex-wife. He just went through a nasty legal battle and tried to hide money from her, got a really sweet job as an area sales rep for a company in Pittsburgh, and set it up that he got perks instead of money so she couldn't have a percentage of it... ie company car and leased hotel suites for vacations, which he hid from her.

He stands around in front of all us girls, some as young as 18 and complains about women to Cateringman and his partner. Both Cateringman and his partner are divorced, so he thinks he has some sort of alliance with them.

The other day his new girlfriend listened to his advice on something so he came in and said "Well, hell froze over. I never thought I'd see the day but a woman took advice from me. Heh. She got off her high horse and listened to someone other than the voice coming out of her ass."

How nice is that, to say something like that about your current girlfriend. And the things he says about the ex-wife make my skin crawl.

He ended up getting laid off from the sweet deal in Pennsylvania and is currently suing the company for his severance package. He said he and his boss both are being screwed out of close to a million dollars each, so they both retained the same lawyer.

I do hope the ex wife gets wind of the severance package. I actually told Mr. He Man Woman Hater that he was a misogynist and he laughed. He said he liked women quite alright as long as they didn't talk back and give him shit.

So I suppose he hates me too. Cause I talk back at him all the time.

Anyhow, Amy praises me for my Passionate Life stance. Thank you. I truly am living it. I'm just wrinkling my nose and shrugging my shoulders for the past couple of days.

Oh -- forgot to mention yesterday's MF class. I stayed here at the house instead of going to the college. I was at a disadvantage because none of the video feeds would work for the other people, but all the audio was working fine for me. My microphone still doesn't work right, but I could hear everyone else talking.

It went almost smoothly. I would say 70% smoothly. The kids are starting to get the concept of using the Start Menu bar to switch between Blackboard and CuSeeMe, and three kids who are in the lab area will be home starting next week because they have DSL or Cable upgraded at their houses. So that will eliminate the need for so many bodies to be in the lab.

We're going to run the class again online next week. The only problem I am really having with the class is the lack of a private room for the kids to go into. The general public keeps coming in, and I have to "Zap" them out. One guy came in and then gave me all kinds of backtalk about leaving. Using the typed chat area, he wrote "This is a public room you know," and I answered, "Yes it is, because the technology doesn't give us a private room. I am the keeper of the room. We are teaching a class. You aren't registered. Please leave."

Then he typed in all caps that I was a bitch. I said yes. I am. The bitch with the crown deciding who is in this room and if he didn't leave I'd be emailing technical support and letting them know this guy was harassing us.

He finally left, but some of the kids following the typed chat area instead of MF's lecture were typing their own comments like "Yeah! kick his ass!" and other wonderfully encouraging comments. I felt like tough shit.

Well anyway -- that's pretty much it. Spongebob is on right now. I think I'm going to go watch it. Sounds like a good thing to do while waiting for the phone to ring, thus summoning me back to work.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

passionate lives, and a story about other people's passions

Recently, Amy of wrote a piece on living a passionate life. Amy's contention is, and correct me if I am wrong dear Amy, is that too many people in life go to jobs they hate, and they complain about them, and they have lost the passion for their work. She is looking for more people who embrace the concept of passion in their day to day living, vocation, lives...

So many people spend day after day after day in a mind numbing workplace hell.... Perhaps they never had passionate lives, or passion for their vocations. Perhaps they dream of doing something so completely different. For instance a person currently works as technical support administrator but he really REALLY want to be pastry chef. And, those living lives in the workplace or non-workplace which they consider passionate are often given a ration of shit by people who think they are wasting their time, or being immature, stupid... sort of like someone who quits their job as an investment banker to be a full time musician with a band, or, to hike the Appalachian Trail and write a book about his experiences.

What stops us from living these passionate lives? What do we do when we are living one, and someone scoffs at it? Do we drop the passion and return to the brain-numbing drudgery of a job we hate?

What motivates us? Is it the need to just pull down a pay check, pay the rent? Work for money's sake instead of vocational happiness sake? Most of the time, yes.

We've all had the shit jobs. You can look at your own resume and say -- "Yeah, that one busted my balls daily and I still have a voodoo doll of the tech manager who wouldn't approve my vacation for my honeymoon!"

I've had plenty of jobs in my life which have made me downright miserable. I've had jobs that I cried on the way to because I hated them so much. But there were bills to pay, children to feed. The pay itself was usually utter crap and not worth the anguish.

And those jobs I eventually quit, just because I was sick of all the crap.

Other jobs we actually have a passion for, and gleefully go in every day. But the workspace, administrators and some co-workers hurt us deep inside, and the job becomes an abusive lover.

In those situations I've let go the passion I felt, let go of the things I loved to run away -- leaving to save my sanity even though it would break my heart and the hearts of some other people around me. Working at the college a few years ago -- that is the perfect example of that kind of relationship. It was abusive, I was used, taken advantage of. I was doing great work that I loved beyond belief -- it tore me to pieces to leave, but it was either that or my sanity.

Sometimes we work great jobs that we love at first, but then become bored with. The tedium. The monotony. My last job started to become that way. I went in with great passion. I did great things. I embraced the corporate world -- but after two years, I started to feel like I was missing something somewhere. I became sort of like a cheating lover. I started looking around at jobfind, at careerbuilder.

I then got laid off.

It wasn't just me, it was a bunch of people -- but once that relationship ended, it was a wake up call. I was suddenly sad. Aware of that which I once took for granted.

I missed the job, the people. I missed what I was doing because I did it so well... instead of making crappy fishy scones or collapsing blueberry tea cakes. The one thing I did well, and loved doing, I took for granted and lost it. I bet if I were there another few weeks, the passion may have returned. With a little couples therapy or maybe just a good talk with my wonderful, super, supportive boss Debbie.

But that wasn't to be. That relationship is over.

So now, I'm collecting unemployment. I'm sometimes a web designer, sometimes a mom, sometimes a housewife, sometimes a caterer. Sometimes ... I need a beer. Sometimes I want to throw myself off a bridge.

But, I never fall into bed at night saying "I hate everything and everyone and don't want to get up in the morning."

Whatever my schedule is for the following day -- it is lived with passion. I'm finally sort of in a place where I'm happy consistently (except the past couple of days and to be honest -- they really were not that bad compared to stuff I've lived through in the past).

I am proud to say. I live a passionate life. I may not be doing my dream job -- I don't know that I have one. But I feel that what I'm doing right now is great. I'm very pleased. I know I have room for improvement, for change, for growth. I slightly fear what will happen when the unemployment runs out and when my taxes are due. But you know -- I'm happy.

And deep down, that is all that matters to me. I know all my problems will work out.

I bitched to Aaron yesterday about how much the sink is going to cost to get fixed. He asked me when the last time was that we were in a money crunch. I told him it has been years. He seemed shocked. He and Michelle are living the student adult life -- with him getting his degree and her trying make ends meet on her salary. Cash has been tight for them a lot in the past five years of their lives... and he vents to me a lot. This was the first opportunity I had to express my own worries -- and he successfully turned it around on me and made me look at things as: It Could Be Worse. This could be a monthly occurrence, where we don't have money. Where loans don't get paid. Where the phonebill gets behind. Where the water bill and gas bill get a coin flipped between them to determine what check gets written.

And he's right -- it could be worse. Everything is going to work out, even if I have to take a retail job at Christmas, one of those jobs I'll hate but will pay the bills.

I will keep my passionate life -- it just won't involve work. That will be something I'll embrace passionately, and make it temporary. It will be sort of like the mercy screw (as it were) of my adult life.

Just do it, get it over with. You'll hate yourself for a few minutes but hey -- ends justify means. Bills get paid. Life goes on.

Speaking of jobs, and passion... working back in the food service industry reminds me of a lot of crazy stories I have about ... working in the food service industry.

This should probably be an entry in and of itself, but don't stop me. I'm on a roll tonight.

One particular memory that has been especially haunting as of late is from my days as a shift supervisor for a major Boston based bakery business with a certain French name.

It was in the Mall in a local town. Our storefront was actually leased from Filenes while the mall was undergoing renovations and additions to add a nice food court. We didn't have our storage, our freezers, trash disposal or anything accessible from the actual store. We had to go up into Filenes, to the second floor, through the guts of the place, past racks and rows of last seasons cast-offs and naked mannequins with bullseyes drawn on their nipples.

I loved the bowels of Filenes. It was a joy to go up there, but when you are the shift supervisor, you must stay with the store. So underlings were often chosen to go run errands. One was to up to our storage/office area, get the trash cart, come back down, retrieve the trash, go back through the store through the least trod upon by the money paying public path, down into the basement/loading dock, dump the trash, take the cart back upstairs and then return to the bakery and wash hands.

Another great job was the daily prep. All the baked goods come frozen. They are stored in the freezer, laid out on sheet pans, put in a rack, wheeled down to the store so they can rise overnight. They thaw in a slightly warm "wardrobe" sized piece of machinery called a proofer. A timer jacks the heat and humidity up a billion degrees somewhere around 5am so the croissants and breads can attain perfect rise and be ready to pop into the big assed ovens first thing in the morning.

Prep was great, because it was one of those things that the manager or shift supervisor gives out to the best, most trusted employees. Most of them were given a half hour limit -- down and back, 100% done, and then go back to do the trash run.

A lot of times I got sent to do the prep when a manager was on duty. As the second in command, I was expendable. Sometimes I could bring a kid with me. We'd race to see who got trays filled faster.

We'd gloat about it later, and then the next day try and beat our own records. I know, it sounds retarded. But hell, at 9pm, it was fun.

So one day I sent this kid Chuck to do the prep. He was a bit on the odd side. Normally I would have been friends with this kid, but ... he was over odd. He was into the whole fantasy role playing thing, he loved to dress all medieval and stuff when he wasn't working. He had great elf boots and a puffy shirt. He'd come by on his days off to say hi, and the only thing missing would be a sword and a damsel on his elbow. There was indeed a damsel. A heavy set and buxom goth girl who would come by and see him too often for my liking. It distracted him, prevented him from working, or, he'd go sulk in the back and be pissy and she'd lurk.

He treated her like shit, but she was enthralled with him. I had NO clue why. There really was something missing there with each of these people. We were all about the same age -- but I felt like they were just stupid. Who knows. Perhaps they were living passionate lives and I wasn't seeing it. I thought they were pathetic.

I'd give her free soda. She was nice, but again -- too weird. Not like my friends at college who were much the same, into the role playing and fantasy stuff. Only my friends from school were in a different league. They were all weird to some extent by general standards, but they were much, much... brighter.


There was another girl who worked with us. I can't remember the name, but I see the face. She had blue contacts over her brown eyes, long before they were in vogue with the common man. She bragged about how cutting edge they were. How expensive. Her eyes looked fake and dead to me.

She colored her hair, it was some sort of dark brown naturally, but she bleached it, and it never got all the way nice blonde. It had this ... dead red, dirty hue which sort of matched the dead in her eyes. She always had roots showing. She could never follow instructions. She was a pain in my ass.

She had a boyfriend who joined the military. He was at basic training. And their song was "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx.

As if it wasn't bad enough that the song is sucky and horrid, she got all weepy and sentimental when it came on the mall speakers in that insufferable mix of what is considered popular music, which they play, non-stop. Even when there is no one in the building. It never turns off.

So at least once a shift when I was working with her I'd have to hear all about the boyfriend, hear the song, and die a little on the inside. She wore his school ring with hers on a chain around her neck, played with it all the time.

I guess while I was doing paper work, or busy actually working on stuff, she and Chuck got friendly. She confided a lot in him about the Boyfriend. They would work next to each other and shamelessly flirt, then she'd get all weepy when Richard Marx would sing of enduring love that waits right here for you.

One day, I sent Chuck to do the daily prep. Usually he was up and done and coming back for the trash in less than 40 minutes. The girl asked me at one point about 20 minutes after he left if she could go to the bathroom. I told her sure, it was slow. The other shift supervisor, Kevin, was there with me. She could take a break. We all had to use the employee bathroom in Filenes.

It was... right near our office.

After about 20 more minutes, I realized that neither Chuck had not yet returned. Because Chuck had my key to the office in order to go up there, I asked Kevin to go up to see if Chuck was alright. What if he got locked in the walk in freezer? What if he had a rolling cart of frozen bread fall on him? What if he had been attacked and killed. In a few minutes he was back, Irish-red and very angry. Chuck was behind him with the trash cart. The girl came down a few minutes later, crying. She left without saying anything. Chuck did the trash run, came back, left without washing his hands.

Kevin told me he'd be back -- and went upstairs. After we closed up for the night what he'd walked in on.

When he opened the door, the girl was on the prep table (yes, ON the damn prep table where food gets prepped) ankles by her ears and gripped in her hands, moaning and writhing, her necklace with the two school rings banging against the stainless steel rhythmically.

Chuck was down, "having a snack," as it were. His pants around his ankles, he was kneeling on a milk crate, pleasuring himself to the fullest extent.

Oh my God. Had it been me who found that I would have gouged my eyes out with my blunt fingernails. Poor Kevin. He just about screamed. Much to the surprise of Chuck and his... snack partner.

I am laughing right now as I see him in my mind. Kevin was all of 18 or 19... about 4 foot 10, I called him "My Little Buddy," all the time. He was very Irish, blondish brown hair in a crew cut. He was a wrestler in high school and could kick the ass of anyone twice his size. He was LIVID, started SCREAMING at Chuck. The girl, man I wish I could remember her name, grabbed her clothes and started crying. And Kevin ended up finishing the food prep because Chuck got distracted.

We talked about it for quite a while after we closed. The horror of it all in the first place, but even more so -- what to do about it. Oral sex on company time hadn't become a national issue yet, that was still about a decade away. Kevin told me he fired both of them on the spot.

Chuck started screaming at him when they got caught -- the usual crap that you shouldn't say to your boss when caught taco munching on the clock: "What the fuck are you doing walking in on us? What is your fucking problem you fucking asshole!!!!"

"Uh, this is my office and I am paying you to work not fuck, especially on a surface where food touches! What the fuck are YOU thinking!!!!" was Kevin's response.

So he fired them -- but Chuck still had to take out the trash. Which he did. I laughed about that... Kevin made him pull up his pants and do the trash run after getting fired for workplace cunnilingus. Wow. I don't know if I could have done that if I were in Kevin's place. That took guts.

It was 11pm at this point. We were closed up, drinking a coffee and talking about what to do. Kevin sanitized the entire office and prep area before finishing the prep work, and then he cleaned it again. The thing we couldn't decide on was calling the owner of the franchise. His name was Paul. He would probably drive down there and go to Chuck's house and strangle him, and then come back and sanitize the prep area yet again. Chuck was one of our most responsible employees and losing him would put a great burden on both of us to do all the work at night until we could figure out who could be trusted to do the prep work in future.

Both of us couldn't figure out what she was thinking though. Both of us spent countless hours working with this girl and all she ever talked about was her boyfriend, when he was coming home. How much she loved him... and we couldn't get away from that retarded schmaltzy love song that celebrated their love for one another and assured that she'd be right there waiting for him. How could you DO that, with HIM of all people... while waiting for the perfect man to finish up at Ft. Somewhere Kicking His Ass. Both of us were young too, in love with our significant others (his Katie, my Douglas), I was 22, Kevin was 19 or so, we were both really young but we knew what you do and don't do in relationships. Neither of us could fathom sinking to that level, and both of us were sure at that one moment that it could happen to anyone. We talked for over an hour just about what we'd do if we were in a situation like that, or if we found out our significants had done that to us.

And again, in my mind I could hear Richard Marx...

"Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you..." with Chuck in my thighs I'll forget our goodbyes, and be on the prep table waiting for you..."

I ended up talking to her a few days later. Last thing I wanted to do ever. She told me Chuck seduced her. He tempted her. He spent all his time talking to her about what a wonderful person she was, and how beautiful. At first she said she knew he was just trying to get in her pants, but over time he assured her that his affection to her was platonic, you know... because of the military boyfriend and his own Goth chick.

He was lavishing her with attention, with love, with... passion.

She fell for it, hook line and sinker. She told me that he pulled her right into this deep longing abyss, that she painted this picture in her mind based on his words that she was worthy of so much and that she wasn't going to be getting it from Mr. Military Boy when he got back. And when she stopped in to say hi to him on her way back from the bathroom, well... the rest is history.

Tempted. And on my prep table. "Wherever you go, whatever you do..."

I told her that I was going to ask her things not as a supervisor but as... another girl. What the fuck was she going to do about the boyfriend? She cried. And cried. She didn't know what she would do, she knew that she couldn't lie to him. That their relationship was totally wrecked and would never recover if she told him. But she couldn't lie to him and go through life with a secret like that. Listening to her go on and on... it was horrible.

I told her that she could come back to work, that she could work only with me and not with Kevin or Chuck, that we'd work something out. I felt so badly for her. She fell from grace, not only at the workplace but in her own life, shat on her own expectations of herself. The Endless Love kind of romance thing she had -- hell she was no more than 20. So was I. I could relate. It was "The Real World" kind of thing that some people have to face. What was I going to be, the hardassed boss? The sympathetic female friend? The detached observer? The homicidal maniac the next time I laid eyes on that puffy shirt wearing Goth shithead? What was I going to do?

She told me she couldn't come back to work there and asked if we could mail her the last paycheck that she was waiting for. I never saw her again.

The owner ended up hiring Chuck back, much to the protestations of Kevin and myself. I never could stand to be around him again. He gloated. Like he had a victory over us because he got his job back. He was piss poor at what he did in the workplace from thereafter. And she went and crawled under a rock. I wish I could see where both of them are today.

Anyway, this sure has turned into a long long long entry. I'm sure you have workplace lust stories of your own. And I hope I ruined that Richard Marx song for you. I've got to go check on my potroast. It won't look like the picture up there, but hell. It's what's for dinner.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Failing Baking 101

Yesterday was not a red letter day for me. In fact -- a lot of days lately haven't been. I usually try and shrug shit off my shoulders when it rains down hard, but lately it's all been just kind of holding on and building up. And thus it makes me stink.

Everything I touched yesterday turned to shit. First, I made scones for an English afternoon tea being held today. I over kneaded the batter, and they turned out not too puffy. Then, I made blueberry tea cake, the first pan turned out spiffy, the second collapsed in the middle, even though I tested it with a skewer before taking it out of the oven, so I had to rebake it.

It was a tasty mistake, but... one that I could see disappointed cateringman. Supplies and content are money. My time mixing a new batch of something I already made once is money.

Then, I get shown how to make these nasty stupid little hors d'ouevres called avacado crab cakes, and they are coming out all shitty. Cateringman comes over, and he always has this little tone in his voice. The very father like, "Let me show you how it's done..."

I almost threw a temper tantrum. I was trying my hardest, and here he was -- yet again, showing me how to do it. I suck. I suck at everything. And I was mad at me, not at him. He told me to calm down (and I did) and not to take it so personally.

This morning when I came in I apologized. The one thing I needed for him to know is it isn't ever HIM I'm mad at -- it is me. He laughed and told me it was all good.

We got a call later from the woman who ordered the scones for her party. She said they tasted like fish.


Fish!?!?!? WTF?!?!?

How the hell did that happen? I had very clean hands, I didn't handle an ounce or even a dollop of fish yesterday. So there is no way it is MY doing.

There may have been fish close to the batter or something after I mixed it and placed it in the walk in fridge to cool. But it was wrapped tightly and away from everything else.

Cateringman whipped up another batch of 50 real quick like, they were done in 20 minutes. He ran them over to her house personally. I felt horrible. But I know deep down that I had nothing to do with the fishiness.

He had some reserved for another gig this weekend and we all tasted them. There is a peculiar aftertaste, but... how the hell it happened none of us know.

I just can't win.

The only really good thing is that I garnished the hell out of the little tea sandwich trays, I made an ass kicking cranberry orange nut bread, which rocked so steady your socks would have fallen off if you got within 10 feet. I did a couple things right. But not enough to feel like I succeeded at catering school.

I got a call from professor CM regarding one of our projects. He showed it to the private high school which had hired him to do an annotated history links website -- he organized the links, annotated them and assigned a rating system, I built the webpage and made it graphically pretty.

The chair of the history department at this school LOVED it, and while she was meeting with CM she called up the chair of the English department to have him look at it -- we could end up doing one for them too if we are lucky.

CM was jumping up and down and screaming with joy and gushing with praise like he did in August when I co-taught the class with him. Again -- it felt good to have my ass slathered with worship. So the one thing I can do and do very well, design websites, I'm not doing. I hate my life.

Anyway -- we were going to go to NY this weekend to see my sister, but I had already agreed to work Friday night for cateringman at a big big big party. Lee Lee's coming up for a christening at home, and is staying a couple extra days.

But because of my prior committment, I don't get to see her. I get to wear a chef coat and work a carving station. I told cateringman to make sure the coat is extra huge.

It kind of pissed me off in a little way -- last week they begged everyone to work, and when I told him what my Friday schedule was going to be (work until 3, come home, meet the girl's bus, come back, go to gig...) he seemed surprised I was working.

"But you told me you needed me to. I cancelled weekend plans."

"Oh, okay. Yeah, I guess I did tell you that..." Then he starts telling me what time to show up and stuff. Perhaps I could have gone to NY after all.

Hopefully we can see Linda for Christmas. Normally when she was living in New York we'd try and see each other more often. Now that she's in Florida it kind of super sucks. If her weekend wasn't so booked solid, perhaps she coulda come up here. Such is life, eh?

Not like I don't talk to her all the time. God bless the Interneck.

In plumbing news, the other day I'd mentioned that Doug was off to replace the washer in the sink once again. Well, it didn't work. No washer will stop the flow of water from the faucet. So, we decided to call a plumber before Doug started swearing like one.

He came this morning -- looked at the sink and said "They don't make PARTS for this thing anymore. You are going to have to replace the whole thing... and look at your drain pipe. Have you noticed your drain pipe?"

Yes. I had.

I had noticed that slowly it was getting... calcified and scaley. He said that's because it is rusting from the inside out. One good whack and the whole frigging thing will crack in half. He told me not to mop in the bathroom until he can replace it.

Good thing I don't mop. Guffaw.

So he had me look through some catalogues, he measured the area, told me what sink will fit. I talked to him about the possibility of doing a corner sink, kind of kitty cornered in there because it is such and implausably small bathroom. He showed me a few models in the catalog and said that he could probably do it without having to redrill from the basement...

I started to show Doug when he came home but he was too cranky to talk about it. He works a long hard day and by the time he gets back here he just wants a nap. So I'll go over things with him tomorrow. I want to tear down the wall covering in the bathroom before the sink gets installed -- so this could be the impetus for me to get that room partly remodeled in the next few weeks. Damn. Not what I expected I'd be doing. God's way of telling me it's this room's turn.

I'm not sure how much the sink and install will cost me. Cateringman and one of my co-workers told me to just go to home depot, buy a sink, install it myself.

It was all I could do to keep from laughing in their faces. HA! Me. Replacing a sink. I can't even make scones right.

Well, I have some MF stuff to do. Her class is attempting to meet online again tomorrow. I'm having lunch with my friend Rupa before class instead of lunch with the guys... I always see them and never see her, so she's been longing to lunch with me. I'll make that happen. It's nice to be wanted.